Daniel Ortega has been sworn in as the Nicaraguan President for a fourth consecutive term, only hours after the US and European Union imposed fresh sanctions on several figures in his government.
Ortega, who won the November 7 election by a landslide, focused his inauguration speech on the history of the Sandinista rebellion against the former US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza.
In a measured speech, he vowed to continue the battle “to erase poverty, to erase hunger, to improve the lives of the families of Nicaragua.”
Ortega also commented on the 700 political prisoners who had protested in front of the US Congress after the disputed 2020 US presidential election.
“There is already a crisis in the United States. Some thousands of North Americans pointed out that the elections have been stolen from the previous President (Donald Trump) and they went to Congress to protest,” he said in his remarks.
“There are 700 North Americans in jail because they went to protest to the Congress. Naturally, they are political prisoners. They are waiting to be released because they are political prisoners.”
Most Western leaders snubbed the inauguration ceremony on Monday, though leftist leaders such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Cuba's President Miguel Diaz Canel and economic deputy of the Iranian president, Mohsen Rezaei, attended to show their support to the central American leader.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy also participated in the ceremony as a show of support to Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, conveying Xi's congratulatory message.
Envoys from Russia, and North Korea also attended the ceremony at the Plaza de la Revolucion in capital city of Managua.
The United States has long been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.
In a statement before election results were announced, US President Joe Biden accusing Ortega of orchestrating a "pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic."
The US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Nicaraguan government on Monday, accusing Ortega’s government of “state acts of violence, disinformation and targeting of independent media” during November’s general election.
The sanctions by the US Treasury Department were issued against six Nicaraguan officials, including the minister of defense.
The Treasury action also targeted officials of the Nicaraguan military, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company.
The property and interests of the six individuals, who have served Ortega’s government since 2007, will be blocked in the United States under the freshly-imposed sanctions.
Washington and the EU have already imposed sanctions against Ortega's family members and allies.
Ortega, 75, who helped depose the right-wing Somoza family dictatorship in the late 1970s, has been in power for 15 consecutive years. He has ruled alongside his 70-year-old wife, the government’s official spokeswoman, since early 2017.
Ortega served as president in 1980s before losing power in 1990. He, however, staged a stunning comeback in 2007.